In light of the recent wildfires across Colorado, the staff at Animal Central would like to remind all pet owners that during extreme emergencies, both natural and man-made, being prepared can be the difference between life and death for all members of your family, including your pets. Disaster preparation takes time and thought and should be done well in advance of the situation.
Creating disaster evacuation kits for all members of your family is extremely important, and while most people compile the basic necessities for the humans in the family, pets should be considered in planning as well. Keeping a pet carrier or cage available in a specific location for each pet, labeled with their name, description, contact information for their veterinarian, and your emergency contact information can be extremely important. Always keep copies of current veterinary records including prescriptions with your evacuation kit. Keep lists of special needs for each pet including: medications, diet, and medical conditions. Pets should have proper identification in order for you to verify that they are in fact your pet. This can include: microchips, tattoos, and/or a collar with tags (remember that tags can be misplaced, however). Locate an evacuation site away from your home such as a friend, relative, pet friendly hotel, or lodging facility that is willing to accept your pets in the event of an emergency. Keep a list of options and all contact information with your evacuation kit. Whenever possible, keep your pets with you during and after evacuation. Pets separated from their family are at an increased risk of being permanently lost and/or re-homed if their family cannot be located.
Disasters can happen at any time, not just when you are at home, so make sure to plan for your pets in the event that you are absent. Leaving a key with at least one neighbor and making sure that your pets are familiar with them can be a valuable asset to rescue teams. Make sure your neighbor has a list that contains your pets’ names and favorite hiding places. The neighbor should also know the location of your evacuation kit and carriers for safely transporting your pets. Place pet locator stickers on the front and back of your home to indicate the type, location, and number of pets within your home in case rescue personnel are needed to evacuate your beloved companions. Always keep these stickers up-to-date to decrease time spent searching for pets that are not able to be accounted for.
Knowing that your entire family, including your pets, is safe in the event of a disaster is one less stress that you will have to encounter. Being prepared will also make an already difficult situation a bit easier. Disasters often require quick evacuation and being prepared will make the process faster for everyone involved. Families should also consider transportation of all of their pets and items that they intend to take with them during an evacuation as a majority of the time a single trip is all that will be allowed. Decide what is most important and make sure that your vehicle is able to contain all of those items.
Ask us at Animal Central for more ways to prepare your pets for disaster or visit: http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=52653
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff